Will Your Passion Dim in Retirement?

From my US News & World Blog

To enjoy a fulfilling and meaningful retirement, you need to identify what you are passionate about and figure out a way to pursue that activity. Living each day with the simplistic goal of just keeping busy can kill some hours. But to really enjoy retired life, there should be a purpose for each day.

Finding a passion that drives and excites you is not always easy. Just consider all the people who are drudging through life in careers they hate. If fully living each day were easy, everyone would have figured it out by now.

Once you have successfully identified a passion to pursue in retirement, there’s always the possibility that your passion for that activity could begin to dim. Over time you might not get as excited about what used to delight you. When this happens, your days may begin to drag on listlessly. Or perhaps your passion will become too expensive to afford when you are living on a fixed income and inflation slowly erodes your purchasing power.

A friend retired about twelve years ago from a fulfilling teaching career. Each day he was inspired to try to positively impact his students. He was a favorite among the students because of the passion he brought to the classroom and his clever ways of presenting otherwise boring material. When he retired, he knew exactly what he wanted to do: dancing and travel. So he became a dance instructor on cruise ships.

During the next ten years he danced the night away teaching novices the steps to ballroom dancing. As a passenger on various cruises traveling the world, he was able to fulfill his travel goals at the same time. He spent the early part of his retirement dancing with new people each evening while aboard a luxurious cruise ship sailing toward the next port of call.

Then, for some inexplicable reason, his passion for dancing and travel began to flicker. He found himself less interested in what had been giving meaning and inspiration to his retirement. Was he getting tired of the same thing? Had ten years of travel been enough to satisfy his bug to see the world? Although he is still a dedicated Dancing with the Stars viewer and remains physically fit, his desire to dance has diminished.

It is not surprising that the things that drive and excite us change over time. But it is scary to think that discovering your passion and pursuing it offers no guarantee of long-term satisfaction.

It may be that the best we can hope for in retirement is to pursue our passion for as long as it exists. The reality that a retirement passion may lose its luster at some point should serve as renewed motivation to keep at it while we are still drawn to an activity and to continue to search for new passions throughout retirement. Having more than one passion to pursue can help keep us engaged, should one passion lose its luster.

Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.

You Can’t Buy Passion

Recent article of mine written for ArticleBase.com 

We often hear the importance of pursuing passion in life to realize the full potential each of us possesses. By spending our lifetime doing what we love, what inspires us, and what turns us on our chance of finding happiness should increase. If there is a nobler or more worthwhile pursuit I do not know what it is. We all want to be happy.

Yet the discovery of what we are passionate about let alone how to pursue and realize that passion proves elusive to many. Passion is defined as an intense or vehement emotion, occupying the mind in great part for a considerable period, and commanding the most serious action of the intelligence. It drives us, inspires us, empowers us and ultimately gives our lives meaning beyond just existing. We all want to find our passion, we all want to live what we are passionate about, but we often have no clear direction. In spite of best efforts, some are destined to never realize that personal passion that defines who we are and more importantly who we can be.

Not only is it important to discover that inner passion and purpose but once we identify it we need to pursue it. Knowing what excites and drives us without having the ability to chase it can frustrate and derail the best intentions. Too often the realities and requirements of everyday life prevent us from doing what we would love to be doing if we only had the choice. How many businessmen secretly dream of being musicians or artists but the realities of “making it” in the world prevent them? Imagine the feeling of waking up each day excited to jump out of bed knowing that what awaits you is what you love to do. And if you follow your passion it is not only about getting to the destination since every step along the way is something you enjoy doing.

So, if you had all the money you wanted would you automatically realize your passion? Could you buy that passion perfect just for you? I don’t think so.

Alas for those that never sing but die with all their music in them ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

I believe that living our passion is as much about the day to day journey through life as it is about achieving any ultimate end result. For example let’s say that you discover you love playing the piano and your passion is to become good at it. You are entranced by the beautiful melodies and harmonies that baby grand can produce and you want to make sweet music yourself. Accepting that it will take some time you commit yourself to regular practice and you stick with it. You begin to improve over time and find yourself enjoying the sounds you are creating as your increasingly nimble fingers dance over the keyboard. In fact since you are seeing progress you may even find it a bit easier to sit down for the obligatory hours of practice. Surprise – your passion to be a good piano player is being realized along the path toward that goal. When you find yourself enjoying the act itself you are chasing your passion. You are on the right track as effort required is a labor of love that you gladly undertake. It is not just about being a good pianist but more becoming a good pianist – it is the passion felt along the way, that is the passion pursued, that is the purpose achieved.

If you throw money into the equation you do not change the playing field.  And too much money can lead to feelings of entitlement for those who possess it. I deserve this and I have the money so I will have it. However passion cannot be bought. It is not something you can touch but rather a driving feeling inside you. It is not something to be owned but rather a source of inspiration and satisfaction that makes it worthwhile living each day. Passion is not about things but about a way of living.

Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things ~ Denis Diderot

Sure I can buy a first rate (aka expensive) piano but what then? Without the inner drive and desire to become a good piano player how will I motivate myself to put in the time required to get good? Without inspiration practice will be painful and progress never quite fast enough. Eventually should I stick with it I will likely develop a reasonable level of skill and the ability to play the music. But if I am passionate about playing I will make music. Putting my emotions into my playing, feeling the notes rather than merely reading them, inspired and turned on by the act of playing that magical keyboard I will go where those technically adept players will never go.

In the end I guess you can buy your passion – but with effort and focus not money. You need to look inside yourself and find what it is that most inspires you. You need to understand that yes you can live a life should you be forced to do other than pursue that passion. But when you look at that life you also need to realize that by accepting less than what you want, by doing other than what you love, you become a passenger rather than a driver.

If you are just existing and calling it a life, it is up to you to right the course. Nietzsche said “is not life a hundred times to short for us to bore ourselves?”  What are you willing to do?

If you are unsure of how to find your personal passion you may want to take a look at my book Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life? Through real life examples you will learn to understand the roots of passion and identify specific steps you can take toward generating a blueprint of the purpose and life you could be and should be living.

Be Passionate about Something

You need to find your passion. Don’t give up on finding it because then all you’re doing is waiting for the reaper. ~ Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon Commencement Speech, 2008

The following excerpt is taken from my recently released book “Are you Just Existing and Calling it a Life?” that uses real life examples to understand the roots of passion and identify specific steps you can take to generate a blueprint of the purpose and life you could be and should be living.

Passion is defined by Century Dictionary as an intense or vehement emotion, occupying the mind in great part for a considerable period, and commanding the most serious action of the intelligence. It is not a little bit of anything, it is not tepid, it is not wavering but rather an all-in-one hundred percent commitment to the moment and the experience. Passion drives us, inspires us, empowers us and ultimately gives our lives meaning and purpose beyond merely existing. Our passion reflects what matters most to us. It does not push toward something we do not want but instead draws us toward what we most care about and desire. If we had the choice to do it or not do it we would choose to do it. Some of the most wondrous and magical of mankind’s achievements have been the result of relentless pursuit of passions. And it is in identifying these passions that we catch a glimpse of the blueprint of our purpose and the life we could be and should be living.

Too many accept a role of merely existing living safely on the periphery passively watching the world go by. At a distance they feel little and experience even less. With little risk they realize little reward. Lackadaisical days followed by lethargic nights interspersed with uninspired moments. The bar to reach fulfillment is lowered to accommodate the minimum rather than pushed upward toward the higher potential that awaits each of us.

Living should not be just about getting by – it is about experiencing all that the world has to offer. It is not about merely accepting what you are given but instead reaching further and stretching toward your real potential. Pursing your passion brings purpose to your life. Settling all too commonly results in a forgettable life only partially lived.

Passion and purpose exist everywhere around us. Ask yourself this question: What is it that I am most passionate about?” Does an answer quickly come to mind? Or instead do you find yourself stumbling as you attempt to formulate a response? And what if you are unable to come up with anything that fits the bill? If you do not know where you are going how will you reach your destination?

If you have not yet uncovered passion in your life, if you are not in pursuit of that personally motivating, driving and purposeful something that truly turns you on, you are missing out. And if you have never sought to understand what is most important to you, to figure out what you want to be doing with your life more than anything else, it is time to take a look. No one should settle for less than striving to realize their full potential.

“Are you Just Existing and Calling it a Life?” helps in the search for your own personal passion as we share what inspires others in their lives. Experience from the inside what it is that inspires and gives purpose. Then empower your passion to realize purpose and meaning in each day lived. Don’t just settle for existing when you can be living your passion.